Quack! Quack! Quack!
Here it is, all the noise that's fit to print about my recent book fling for Nest, Nook & Cranny.
This was months in the planning, so that opposite coasts could come together. Author Susan Blackaby arrived from Portland, OR and I immediately whisked her across the bay to Peaks Island.
Daisy took this shot on the beach at mid-tide. We roamed through the woods, and over to the backshore, planning our duet at the Peaks Island School.
As a career veteran of curriculum writing, Susan's ready for romping wordplay.
And the kids were, too. It was a much-deserved break from state-wide testing. Susan talked about finding inspiration in unlikely places, keeping a sharp eye for detail, and the structure of a cinquain.
I showed my rough sketches, talked about the process of evolving an illustration, and drawing from life. We both brought some found natural objects to spark discussion, writing, and sketching. The third graders wasted no time in their nature journals.
When the recess bell clanged, we headed off island, spotting these cormorants convening.
Here's Susan in Monument Square, ready for round two at the Portland Public Library.
We met in the teen lounge, with even more to display, thanks to Kirsten Cappy's taxidermy, on gracious loan from the Audubon Society.
This flicker in flight got some sketching going.
There was yapping, too. About rhyme schemes and see-through guitars, smudgy pencils, the beginning of driftwood, and how deer lose their antlers.
Susan left for another event in VT, and I hung an exhibit of work from the book at the Gem Gallery on Peaks Island. Art on the walls, and poetry in the woods, thanks to Curious City and Story Walk!
The intrepid Kirsten Cappy arrived bright and early to help place signs (printed locally by Banacom).
Spreads from the Woodlands and Wetlands habitat sections of Nest, Nook & Cranny were dotted along a nature trail stewarded by the Peaks Island Land Preserve.
Visitors to the gallery exhibit joined up with PILP president, Garry Fox, a naturalist and science teacher at Portland High School. He led walkers down a poetic path, with a quack here and there.
(photo and video courtesy of Fran Houston)
The signs were pretty in situ...
He pointed out plenty of evidence of beavers in action. (photo by Daisy)
Daisy also shot this detail of the white seed pods, dangling like dew from the invasive species of Japanese knotweed, often mistaken for bamboo.
For those lacking time to linger in the woods, a few signs were posted at Ferry Beach. Susan Blackaby's poem here begins, "Otters loll like whiskered boats, bobbing in the swells." So the sign
paired well with this black and white vessel.
Back at the Gem Gallery, I was yapping again, meeting old friends and making new ones. (photo below courtesy of Martha Morris-Gibson, Gem member and bodacious basket weaver)
I put up a "process" wall, showing all the preliminary sketches done for the cover art, as well as various attempts that evolved into the final piece.
I am thrilled that my favorite folks turned out to celebrate the book. This photo by Fran Houston captures the wacky affection we islanders have for each other.
After I closed the door at the Gem, I returned to the entrance to the Story Walk, marveling at what a magical place I inhabit, full of critters and creators doing what they do naturally. Notice the downed birch, the nefarious work of our beaver colony, maybe not so bold about sharing their territory.
Thanks to all who helped me pull this off: Curious City, Longfellow Books, Portland Public Library, Healthy Portland, Peaks Island Land Preserve, the Gem Gallery, and, my better half, Marty.
Also to Charlesbridge, who partnered me with a simpatico soul mate and amazing writer, Susan Blackaby. Sweet!